Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Who Knows?

We all believe in authenticity here, right? My past transformed me. It continues to. This blog is a diary. An excavation. An unearthing and a revelation. It doesn't have to be remarkable or memorable. I just want it to be real.

When I was approximately 19 years old, the process of my first divorce began. He was the boy I broke up with my boyfriend to marry, because I was carrying his child. He was my old boyfriend. My new boyfriend was stunned. Either way, this was the path I chose. We sat in our rented farmhouse outside of Cookeville, Tennessee. Shag carpet, lousy heating and air. Mice. $210 per month. He told me he was leaving and I continued to watch TV. He would have left right then because I didn't fight for him to stay with me and our 9 month old baby. He didn't have a car. The next day, I drove him 90 miles away to his parents house.

So be it.

Soon, baby Spencer and I were living in public housing in Cookeville. I collected foodstamps and was on the WIC program. Spencer went to government subsidized daycare while I went to work at the video store. Soon, the electricity was cut off and the eviction notice came. The $800 Visa card had been maxxed out at Walmart. My car had been driven for 2 years without an oil change. Were it not for the love of that sweet baby Spencer, who knows what I would have tried, where I would have ended up. Who knows?

I have no memory of moving out of that apartment. In fact, other than Spencers tiny room with the little crib, and the view out of the top story window down onto the parking lot and the dumpster, I only recall listening to Edie Brickell and Wilson on my radio. And singing alot.

Fast forward to my next apartment in Nashville. Spencer & I shared a room. Mauve was so en vogue at the time. Spencer might have been 2. Maybe 3. I had a job, although I don't recall which one it was at the time. I have no idea how I survived financially. I'm pretty sure I didn't.

One night on the TV, after being glued to the stories of the starving children in Africa with large bellies and flies on their eyeballs.....I sponsored a child. I could barely feed the baby I had in our one-bedroom apartment but I sponsored a little boy in Zambia. I could not wait to receive the information in the mail with his photo and a story about him. When it arrived, it went on my fridge. I have no idea how long I paid to sponsor him. I think it was several months before I finally had to back out. It broke my heart. I cannot remember his name. I have no idea what my backing out did to his life, or if someone else sponsored him right away. Who knows?

I know that I have been passionate about Africa, orphans, and starving children ever since. I can recall dreaming about going to Africa, way back then....but like the prospect of me flying to the moon feels impossible today, so did an African encounter then. It was never going to happen. Never. No doubt about it.

Stepping my middle class white girl feet onto devastated African soil last year was absolutely a miracle taking place in my physical life as much as it was a miraculous God-injected enlargement of my spiritual heart. Through His nudge and His faithfulness, without (me) ever planning a moment of that to take place in my life, He created my African encounter. I met children and children met me. Amazing things took place. What if I hadn't gone? Who knows?

If I could redesign my life today, map out my future and follow the steps, those steps would lead to Africa. My family and I would reside there and we would love on the village around us. We would share love and food. We would praise. We would teach. We would nurse wounds and heal hearts. But I'm not in control of my life. That might not be Gods' plan. Who knows?

The Lord knows.

Zimbabwe - 17 more days


Melissa said...

the more I learn about you, the more I amazed at our great God and how big he really is.

Erika said...

Giiirrrlll! Do I ever know what you're talking about. Connections of the heart are as thick as connections by blood. It's something you F*E*E*L. You go girl! So inspired by what you do and love to all your children, those born to you by birth and those born to you in your heart.

Sarah said...

Melissa, thanks for sharing your story. I'd love to hear more about your past and how God transformed your life.

I loved the details about the apartments you lived in, like the view of the dumpster and the mauve carpet. One of the apartments my ex husband and I lived in had mauve carpet, and I was so excited about it!

Pete Ahlstrom said...

Melissa - Sobering. Thought provoking. Again, well written.

Yvonne and I went through tough times like that (still are, as a matter of fact), but ours mostly came in the last half of our 31 years together, not in the first. Long story - See our web site for more of those experiences.

If you see Anne Jackson, tell her we miss her site and hope the new one will be up soon. (But caution her about "Feeley's Law" - named for Mike Feeley, a Litton vice president and my oldest daughter's first serious boyfriend (they went to school together). Mike used to say that when he had to figure out how long a project would take (like setting up a new blog), he'd ask his software engineer. Then Mike would do two things: add one to the number the guy gave him, and one to the unit of time. So, "3 weeks" became "4 months." It worked pretty well. We do hope Anne's developers WILL beat Mike's system.)